What starts badly, usually ends badly. The relationship between Dembélé and Barça has been a roller coaster that ends in the worst way posible for the Catalan club. After becoming an important player for the team and earning the trust of Xavi, the dressing room and the fans, the winger decided to throw it all away and leave for Paris Saint-Germain.
The most outstanding characteristic of ‘The mosquito’ is his dribbling ability. He is very difficult to defend as a result of his anarchic playstyle and speed, which make him completely unpredictable. However, he is not a player who fits tactically in FC Barcelona, it was Xavi who made sure to make room for him.
Dembélé’s departure would be an economic catastrophe if he leaves for the 50 million euros release clause agreed for the month of July. Half of the fee would go to the player and his agent, leaving the club with only 25 million euros to show for him, an insufficient amount to find a quality replacement. One of the only positives to him leaving would be the 17 million euros decrease in Barcelona’s payroll, which certainly helps their economic situation.
In footballing terms, his departure is not a total disgrace. He might have been Barcelona’s player with the most dribbles in LaLiga last season (53), but others like Balde (50) or Raphinha (46) are not far behind the Frenchman’s numbers. Moreover, having Dembélé on the wing means losing a lot tactically, as he is a player who requires freedom of movement to shine. Players like Raphinha are more disciplined when it comes to order and strategy. On the other hand, the void he leaves is covered by the return of Abde, who last season managed 59 dribbles, six more than the French winger, with only 98 more minutes played.
In search of a replacement for Dembélé:
Barça do not have many options to replace ‘The mosquito’ for two reasons: there are not many players of that kind available on the market and the financial situation will not allow big moves. The best possible option to occupy his spot would be Bernardo Silva, who does not have a similar playstyle to the Frenchman’s, but knows the system and because the club would kill two birds with one stone: the Portuguese can play on the wing or as the facilitating midfielder Barça has been looking for.
To fit Silva in, Barça would have to change what they were doing last year with the fourth midfielder. Instead of placing Gavi on the left to join the midfield, Bernardo would have to play on the right flank, and a dynamic winger like Abde would occupy the left side of the attack. With the arrival of the Portuguese player, the front office would be able to focus on the last signing: the right back, where Cancelo and Fresneda are the main targets.
If the acquisition of the attacking midfielder was not possible, the board could opt to start Raphinha and bring in a dynamic wing to come off the bench, like Adama Traoré, who is currently a free agent and would be a low cost option. In the case that option does not pan out either, the front office would have to rack their brains in search of a replacement in the transfer market.
The departure of Dembélé is, obviously, a very important loss for Barça, especially because of the amount he is leaving for, but it is not the end of the world. It is worth remembering that the Frenchman has been injured repeatedly and Xavi already knows what it is like not to be able to count on him.
Main image: @FCBarcelona_es.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.